For the first time since 2002 both wild card teams face off in the World Series as the Kansas City Royals play the San Francisco Giants.
The Royals won the American League pennant going 8-0 in the postseason, while the Giants won the National League pennant going 8-2. The Giants are playing for their third championship in five years after winning the World Series in 2010 and 2012. The Royals won the 1985 World Series, which was the last time the Royals were in the postseason prior to 2014.
Both teams are going into the series riding high. The Royals have won 11 straight postseason games since 1985, and the Giants have won eight straight postseason series since 2010. Prior to the World Series both teams met in August where the Royals swept the Giants in Kansas City. The Royals outscored the Giants 16-6.
The Royals come into the World Series on an improbable run after being down 7-3 in the wild card game against Oakland. The Royals are a team that depends on speed, defense and pitching, but they have had the timely hitting needed to succeed in the playoffs. Thanks to core players Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain, the Royals have scored 12 runs in the ninth inning or later this postseason. They also have eight home runs in the playoffs with four hit by Mike Moustakas. The Royals hit a low of 95 home runs in the regular season.
The biggest reason for the Royals’ success has been the bullpen. The bullpen has a 1.80 era entering the World Series mostly due to the trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland. All three combined have given up only three runs in 25.2 innings this postseason.
The Giants are very similar to the Royals because they possess a lineup that has come up clutch, with a good rotation and an excellent bullpen. Madison Bumgarner has been the bright spot this postseason for the Giants as he has a 1.42 era in four starts this postseason including National League Championship Series Most Valuable Player honors. The bullpen has been just as dominant with an era of 1.78 this postseason. The Giants lineup features more power bats compared to the Royals with Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence leading the way.
The series will be won by which team can give their bullpen a lead going into the later innings. Each bullpen has shut down their opponents the entire postseason, and each line-up has been clutch in scoring late in games. It will come down to which bullpen preserves the late leads their line-up provides all series.
This series should be an exciting back and forth series, but the Giants have the edge. The team is built for October with a solid pitching staff top to bottom, and a lineup that has seen postseason success before. Prediction is Giants in five games.